Aldnoah.Zero is not a terribly well-regarded show in the English-speaking blogosphere, but I enjoyed it. I even liked the much maligned second season. I think one of the things I liked most about it was how it fired a torpedo at every possible ship, even though nobody important died [OOPS, SPOILERS]. It was not a conventional ending, nor was it an emotionally satisfying one, but somehow it stuck with me.
One particular character I was fond of really seemed to get the short end of the stick, and I’ve been unable to get her off my mind since. That character was Lemrina.
I was tempted to conclude my 12 days of shipping series with a Me x Lemrina post, but since I’m not an anime character (I think?) I doubt it’ll ever work out between us.
So let me tell you about another person I shipped Lemrina with: her sister.
Lemrina is a giant siscon. To be fair, it’s hard not to have a sister complex when your life revolves around impersonating your sister. Everything about Lemrina’s life is shitty. She’s an illegitimate child who knows she’s being used, she is unloved by everyone, and she is constantly compared to the one person she knows she can never be on the same level with.
And so Lemrina’s life is a mess of contradictions. She loves her sister. She hates her sister. She wants to be her sister. She wants to become her own person.
These complicated feelings she has about her sister explain her attraction to Slaine. Lemrina initially wants to “steal” him from Asseylum so that she can replace her sister and assert her individuality at the same time. Yet upon realising what a shitty life Slaine had, she notes that they have “something in common” (どこか似ている) and resolves to become Asseylum in order to make him happy, and in order to make herself happy. But it’s all a lie. Slaine and Lemrina are lying to each other and also to themselves. When Asseylum wakes up from her coma, Lemrina admits to herself that she could never replace Asseylum, and that’s when her relationship with Slaine falls apart.
Lemrina does find closure with Asseylum. They have a dramatic confrontation at gunpoint, but I would say the real confrontation occurs in episode 22, when they discuss their feelings. This is when Lemrina outright rejects her sister’s outlook. Upon realising that Asseylum never had romantic feelings for Slaine, Lemrina demands, “Who do you care for?!” and Asseylum gives some half-baked response about caring for everyone in Vers.
Now, Asseylum cops a lot of flak from viewers for being naive and idealistic. And it is true that Asseylum is both of these things. But this scene reveals a more complicated side to Asseylum’s ideals. She is in love with ideas, not with people. Far from seeming like an untouchable idol, Asseylum’s troubled expression in this scene indicates that she is all too human. This scene foreshadows her eventual decision to enter a political marriage. Even at the very end, Asseylum chooses her ideas over people. This is not a decision that will make her happy, nor will it make those around her happy. But it is necessary for the sake of “peace”.
Soon after this particular exchange, Lemrina utters her memorable line:
I think this is the moment when Asseylum falls off the pedestal in Lemrina’s mind. Lemrina refuses to be saved by Asseylum; even if she suffers, she is not a passive victim. For Lemrina, this is the first step she takes towards becoming her own person, unburdened by the ideals she had about the sister she had never known. But she doesn’t resent her sister any longer. She smiles at her in the end and beckons her to go. As far as I know, this is the last time they ever interact.
It makes sense that Lemrina never ends up with Slaine either. But in their final scene together, I think they also exchanged something important. Not love, but a kind of compassion. Both of them were too far gone to “save” each other, but I think that in another time and place, they could have been friends. Despite all the lies they told each other, I think they understood each other on some level.
We never find out what happened to Lemrina in the end, but she was a complex, fully realised person in every scene she appeared in. Her cynical outlook was a great foil for Asseylum’s idealism. Even if Asseylum was essentially “right” in the way she chose to end the conflict, Lemrina’s character was always there to remind us that even the righteous can cause deep suffering.
At first, I only shipped Lemrina with Slaine, but thinking about it more, I believe Lemrina’s interactions with Asseylum were more interesting. In some ways, Lemrina’s attraction to Slaine was born out of her deep sister complex. So you could say their relationship is like a love triangle, with Asseylum in the middle. Asseylum is the person who brings Lemrina and Slaine together, but she’s also the person who drives them apart.
It’s a sad and isolating relationship, but much of it is left as subtext. The more I think about it, the more my heart aches. Because this relationship ended up moving me so deeply, I call Lemrina x Asseylum my favourite anime pairing of 2015.
Well, looks like we’ve reached the end of the 12 days of shipping! Hope you enjoyed the posts. I had a blast myself. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody!